Day Seventy One: Eduardo’s Road To Fitness

Very superstitious, writings on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders bout to fall,
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past.

And so sings Stevie Wonder on what may well be one of the best tunes to cycle to, alone, in the mountains.  I was transported to another dimension.  Music carries me off, opens doors and reveals many a long lost memory.  I was back in Hong Kong. Walking through an area called Sham Shiu Po with a friend. I could smell the food cooking on a street stall, bright orange squid jammed onto sticks, placed in a brown paper bag, grease doing a great job of making the paper opaque.  The tune on my iPod revealed all of this to me as I climbed high up in the mountains, one eye on the weather, wondering if the skies would darken, close in upon me and lash me with rain as they had done last week.

I felt good.  I had a belly full of mushrooms in me and was wondering how they would go down an hour into the ride.  Would all be well, or would I regret trying my hand at being Jamie Oliver?

When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way

Very superstitious, wash your face and hands,
Rid me of the problem, do all that you can,
Keep me in a daydream, keep me goin strong,
You don’t wanna save me, sad is my song.

I turned my attention to the song again and decided to think positive.  Mushrooms.  They have to be good for you.  They tasted so very delicious, mixed with rice, with a dash of tarragon and a knob of butter.  My mouth watered just thinking of the dish I had made.  I cycled on, climbing up towards the watchtower.  Looking forward to the mad, fast technical descent that was to follow.

At the top I stopped and quenched my thirst, tightened up that straps on my CamelBak in preparation for the twenty minutes of fast descending that was to follow.  I checked my bike over before I rolled off over the precipitous drop that marks the start of the trail.  Stevie Wonder ended and, as if by magic, the next track began – The richest man in Babylon by the Thievey Corporation.

Back to those tasty mushrooms and why I was cycling with a belly full of them.

Never had I seen so many different types all in one place.  I had broken one of my ‘rules’ – that being never to walk into a supermarket when hungry.  It was too late. I had been out for a hard road ride and had returned home with a full-blown hunger attack.  I had jumped into the shower, changed and walked across the street into our local supermarket.

It is mushroom season here in Barcelona.  I know this because I have spotted odd looking people out on the trails, basket in hand, looking for various types, destined for their dinner table.  Mushroom pickers have a certain look about them.  A curious eager anticipation coupled with a furtive stance, wary of disclosing a ‘find’.  I usually surprise them when I zoom up to them on my mountain bike. It is only when they see that I am without a basket that they relax.

I must confess I know nothing of mushrooms.  I would not entertain the idea of walking into the forest and picking them.  Given my lack of knowledge on the subject I decided to do some research on the web. I discovered that one challenge for mushroom pickers lies in the fact that many mushrooms have an evil twin.  One that looks remarkably similar but which, when consumed, could cause sickness, or even death in some cases. Not good then.

It is for this reason that mushroom picking aficionados needs to be intimately familiar with the mushrooms in their neck of the woods.  I say their neck of the woods because toxicity can vary depending upon location.  A nice little mushroom picked and eaten in Burgos could, if picked in Girona, wipe out a family of six.

I decided that instead of walking off into the forest to collect mushrooms I would play it safe and only consume those on display in the supermarket. I picked up a flyer that explained the difference between the bright orange Rovello and the tiny Pollancro and made a mental note to seek out a Catalan recipe that makes use of these.

I thought I would pretend that I was a mushroom picking enthusiast.  I imagined that I had come across a selection of them in the forest.  Which of them would shake my confidence the most? Which one would scare me into thinking it might be poisonous.  I went for the bright orange one.  A Rovello. Given that I was actually in a supermarket, knowing that it was safe was cheating yet in the same way that swimming with docile Nurse sharks can still give you a buzz, I bought the most poisonous looking mushrooms I could find.

All I had to do next was figure out how to cook them. I returned home and typed Rovello into a search engine, It came up with the name for a hotel, an actor and a black and white photo of some guy on FaceBook.  After much searching it turned out that the best way to eat them was to simply fry them in virgin olive oil with garlic and diced parsley and add a touch of tarragon.  I ate a massive plate of them with rice.  They were stunning.

As the final track on my playlist burst into life –  Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd, the sun popped out from behind a cloud.  The world was looking pretty good and a smile spread across my mud splattered face.  The mushrooms were fine and when consummed with rice, make for a great pre-ride food.  Just don’t go picking weird looking ones in the forest unless you write books on mushrooms and know your Rovellos from your Death Caps.

I leave you with Thievery Corporation’s Richest Man In Babylon, courtesy of YouTube.  A great track to listen to on a sweepy, flowing piece of single-track descent.

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